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In the past, CAMRA seemed to have a monopoly on beer festivals but, more recently, they seem to have been springing up all over the place, run by pubs and a variety of independent organisations. In one sense this has to be seen as a good thing in widening the appreciation of beer. But, on the other hand, isn’t it a further symptom of beer drinking increasingly being seen as a “special occasion” activity rather than a regular part of everyday life? And I know some people for whom beer festivals have largely replaced routine pubgoing.
It used to be thought that attending a beer festival would have a wider effect in informing people’s choice of beer in their local pub. But, more and more, it has become an end in itself. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were people who happily jugged back craft ales at the Stockport beer festival, but in their Robbies’ local continued drinking Carling or Guinness.